The traditional boundaries that separate devices have gotten pretty blurry as new technologies continue to lift us toward a seamless experience: internet on phones, tv on computers, Amazon shopping on coffee machines, and so on. It’s gotten to the point where it seems strange that Youtube still draws a distinction between which videos can and cannot be played on mobile devices. I mean, what devices aren’t mobile these days?
Ergo, it seems like a pretty natural idea that you might want to use your Android device to interact with your television. As is always the case with Android, there are several ways to do this, and the method that you choose will depend on what you’re trying to accomplish. Know how to connect your Android Phone and Tablets to Your TV here.
Method 1: ChromeCast
ChromeCast is bar-none the most fluid, intuitive way to use your phone with your television. ChromeCast has a ton of capabilities, and it even allows users to use multiple smartphones on the same wireless network to interact with a television. Setup is so easy that my 8-year-old nephew did it all by himself.
If you’re looking for a way to throw videos, photos, or music from your phone to your television, look no further than ChromeCast. You can even project your phone screen to your TV and annoy your friends by playing Clash of Clans at full volume. It’s also the absolute best way to handle those never-ending “That’s a pretty neat video, but have you seen this one?” Youtube binges, since everyone can use their own phones to add videos to the ChromeCast queue.
The ChromeCast device itself runs about $30 and plugs into an HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) port on your television. Once you’ve plugged it in and set it up, you can control the television from practically any device connected to the same wifi network regardless of make, model, or operating system. It natively integrates with Hulu, Netflix, HBO Go, Chrome, Firefox, Youtube, Google Music, Pandora and many other services. Seriously, this thing is insane.
Buy the Device
Plug it into your television
This might be complicated if you have a lot of cables or if the back of your television is difficult to access, but most users manage to complete this step without injuring themselves. As long as you have an HDMI port, you’re good to go.
Connect to Wifi
Using your television’s Input selection, navigate to the HDMI channel to see ChromeCast’s home screen. Locate your wifi network and login using your network password.
That’s it! Your Android phone supports most of the features of ChromeCast naturally. If it’s connected to a wifi network and detects a ChromeCast device, the casting icon will be visible in most relevant apps.
To maximize your ChromeCast experience and use features like video queues and screencasting, download the ChromeCast app from the Play Store.
Method 2: Cables
So you’re not really into this whole “wireless technology” thing, but you still want to make your future phone work with this spiffy new television your great granddaughter gave you. No problem! But first we’re going to need to assess your options.
Be aware that if you’re looking to use your phone as a remote control, this isn’t the method for you. Cables can really only be used for displaying your phone’s content on a larger screen. Not to mention the fact physically connecting your device to the television kind of undermines the whole point of a remote control anyway.
Get the right cables
Some Android phones already have micro HDMI ports. These include the Droid Razr, many of the newer HTC models, Galaxy Notes more recent than generation II, and a selection of other models. If your phone has a micro HDMI port, then you will need a micro HDMI to HDMI cable.
However, many Android devices only have the micro USB port, which means you’ll need to get your hands on a Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL). An MHL will convert the signal from your device’s micro USB port into one that won’t freak out an HDMI cable. Once you’ve grabbed an MHL, you’ll also need a good, old fashioned HDMI cable as well.
Once you’ve got your cables handy, the rest is pretty simple.
Connect the Cables
You’ve got this. I believe in you.
Using your television’s Input selection, navigate to the HDMI channel you’ve plugged your phone into. Your phone should have detected the HDMI connection, and a pop-up will give you several options including Gallery, Music, and Mirror on Display.
Method 3: Infrared
For a little while there, smart phones were shipping with infrared ports coming standard. These were initially used for data transfer between devices until Bluetooth came along and rendered it obsolete. However, IR blasters have seen a recent surge in popularity since they can be used for all sorts of nifty things including turning your phone into a universal remote control (since infrared is exactly what regular remote controls use to communicate with your television.
This is pretty useful because phones can be called if they get lost in couch cushions.
So if you want to turn your phone into a TV remote and you have one of these phones:
- Samsung Galaxy S6
- Samsung Galaxy S5
- Samsung Galaxy S4
- Samsung Galaxy Note 3
- Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
- Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
- Samsung Galaxy S4 mini
- LG G2
- LG G Pro 2
- LG G2 mini
- LG Optimus L9 II
- HTC One
- HTC One Max
- Xperia ZL
- or one of a few other devices
…then you are in luck because your phone already has an infrared port!
If not, well, things get complicated. Android offers a nifty modification that lets you grant your phone the powers of infrared technology, but if you don’t have some SMD soldering experience under your belt you might want to pass on this option… Can I interest you in a ChromeCast?
Assuming you’ve got an infrared blaster equipped and functioning, what do you do next?
Get a Universal Remote App
I recommend any Universal Remote Apps in the Google Play Store. I’ve personally never had any trouble with these apps.
Get to Clicking
When I say universal, I do mean universal. You aren’t limited to controlling just your home television with this app, so feel free to terrorize the patrons of your local Wingstop by changing the channel right in the middle of March Madness.
(Joy of Android does not endorse the use of universal remotes for mischief including but not limited to the harassment of sports fans and/or convincing your across-the-street neighbor that his apartment is haunted.)
Method 4: Harmony Smart Control
Harmony Smart Control is an inventive little system that interacts with your phone via your wireless network and converts that information into all the infrared and Bluetooth little blips that your television and gaming systems use to interact with their respective remotes.
Downsides: At $130, it’s a bit pricy. Especially when you compare it to ChromeCast, accomplishes many similar tasks for a whole Benjamin Franklin cheaper.
Upsides: It’s far better than ChromeCast at acting like a normal remote if you’re flipping through cable channels, and it lets you use your phone like an Xbox or Playstation controller if Dark Souls wasn’t quite hard enough for you the first time around. If you’re dead-set on turning your phone into a remote control but it doesn’t have an infrared port, this is your best option.
Order Harmony Smart Control from Logitech
Go to the website. Click Add To Cart. Enter your billing… you know what? I think you can handle this one on your own.
Install the Device
Setting up the Harmony Smart Control device will vary widely depending on what kind of entertainment setup you have. The guide that comes with it is fairly comprehensive though, and the website offers extensive support for troubleshooting.
Download the Harmony Android App
You can find the Harmony Android App in the Google Play Store. The app has a walkthrough to help you sync it up with the Harmony Smart Control.
If there’s anything that justifies the Harmony Smart Control’s price tag, it’s the sheer neatness of being able to pull out your phone and with a few taps turn on your tv, turn on your Xbox360, navigate to Netflix, and resume your Orange Is The New Black addiction without ever touching a television remote or Xbox controller. Pretty darn cool.
You can do a lot of very interesting things with an Android device and a television for relatively little expense. Usually when people are looking for a way to connect their smartphone to their TV, what they mean is that they want to be able to have an additional, larger screen and sound system for content that they usually access with their phone. However, phone-to-TV interaction isn’t limited to just that.
If you want to turn your phone into a universal remote, that capability is fully within your reach with Android. If you just want to play a music video while you tidy up the living room, you can do that too. The trick is getting the equipment you need to accomplish the results that you want and having the appropriate expectations for the kind of method that you use.
I would recommend ChromeCast above all else. It’s both inexpensive and flexible. Once you get used to having it, you won’t know how you lived without it!